Ch’s. 10 & 11 of Romans contain some of the most thought challenging words in the whole of God’s word. The early chapters of Acts show us how belief in salvation through Christ first started in Jerusalem and then spread to Samaria: then when Saul/Paul was miraculously converted, it spread largely to non-Jews, i.e. Gentiles.
Our chapters in Romans which are in a sense, a letter to the Gentiles, they open out our understanding of this – from God’s perspective. Although “Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened” [11 v.7] Verse 11 challenges our understanding, “So I ask, “writes Paul. “did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means!” Is it clear what he means?
Paul sees the ‘big picture’ of the plan and purpose of God; he says, “salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous, and thus save some of them.” [v.14] Paul is mainly looking beyond his generation – he asks a question which is very relevant today. “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” [v.15]
We believe we are living in the era when we can anticipate their “acceptance.” Paul’s point is that Jewish branches were “broken off” so that “you (Gentiles), although “a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree…” [v.17]
In v.20 Paul makes a significant point, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear.” We should “fear,” that is, be in awe of the work and purpose of God and the privilege of being related to it, making sure we heed the warning in the next verse, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.”
If we “become proud” of our knowledge, we “too will be cut off.” [v.22]
We sadly see the decline of true belief in the Creator’s message, indeed, that he even exists, over the last 100 years, especially the last 50! But the miracle of the Jewish regathering, as prophesied, should be a stimulus to our faith – and we note Paul’s point that “God has the power to graft them in again.” [v.23]
We watch to see this happen – and in seeing it – we should become ‘humble’ and “not become proud” – for, as we will readin the Psalms next Sunday, “When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive … For God will save Zion and build up the cities of Judah, and people shall dwell there and possess it … and those who love his name shall dwell in it. ” [Psa. 69 v.32,35,36] Let us love “his name” heeding the lessons we learnt from our readings yesterday – and see with our own eyes – the wonder that Zion will become.